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All About Mary

Doubt and Excommunication

Q: If you do not believe in Mary's virginity are you excommunicated?

A: I agree that excommunication is not the most pedagogical and psychological solution to difficulties regarding faith. Faith should not be oversimplified as an either-or situation. Many of us -- all, I might say -- have doubts, questions, rebellious moments at one time or another of our lives. This does not lead to automatic excommunication. Much of what we call faith is in fact a radical hunger to be able to believe, a strong desire to believe, for the realities of faith do not make much sense if measured with human intelligence only.

Ultimately, our faith is grounded and steeped in love. We believe because we love. We accept doctrinal statements about God because we love him as a personal and living reality. This love helps us to accept much intellectual darkness, doubt and even seeming contradiction. Human love may serve as a comparison. Have you ever experienced human love that would have been absolutely immune to trial and hardship? The human person is unfathomable, God's person incommensurable. Whenever we separate love and faith we are in trouble because faith, has these two facets: trust (love) and adherence or assent. The virginity of Mary is not exempt from these considerations. As a reminder: early Protestants, the founding fathers notably, were strong believers in Mary's virginity (virgin birth and perpetual virginity). The principal Protestant denominations hold fast to the virgin birth, even today. There is no way to elucidate scientifically the virginity of Mary. She didn't leave us a medical report or a description of her birth experience.

Our understanding depends on the willingness to enter into the whole of the God-human relationship come true in Jesus Christ. Incarnation is unheard of, the presence of God in human flesh and reality understood as hypostatic union something only a loving heart can fathom. I am not saying that this attitude explains virginity. No, but it creates a context from which a better understanding of the mystery can be reached.

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